10 Strategies Narcissists & Abusers Use and How You Can Protect Yourself with Wisdom 


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When Love Uses Gaslighting


my greatest desire is to help you understand God's truth and

find the wisdom to avoid the deception and rejection

that toxic relationships bring.


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Whether you listen or read, I trust God illuminates His truth to you! 

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How God can Redeem Your Story When Others Have Evil Agendas

In the next video, I’m going to dive into a glossary of terminology used to describe strategies that narcissists and abusers use to control their partners. But first, I want to make a clarification. For the purposes of this instruction, I’m using the term narcissistic abuse loosely to describe behavior that is common in men who are narcissists, but can also be used by men who are emotionally abusive. I’m not a counselor and don’t have the training to diagnose whether or not someone is on the narcissistic spectrum, but even if a man is not on the spectrum, these manipulative strategies are common among men who use coercive control to dominate their partners.

Narcissism has received a lot of press in recent years. Perhaps you’ve read a lot about narcissistic abuse and your eyes were opened. Maybe you’ve dived into books and your eyeballs popped out of your head as you’ve finally had clarity to combat confusion and define what you’ve been experiencing.  

Being able to identify and have the terminology to describe the oppression that you’ve experienced is very healing.

But now that you have all of this information maybe you’re wondering, Does God’s Word agree with the psychology of abuse or is psychology just human wisdom?

It can be confusing when psychology and the Bible use different terms to describe behavior. For example, you won’t find the word narcissist in the Bible. But the Bible has much to say about one who   is arrogant and inflated with self-importance. Who lacks empathy and is and selfish. Prideful and abusive. Men who exemplify these character qualities are called fools, mockers, and scorners. Liars, Deceivers, and even false prophets.   

Plenty of men in the Bible had narcissistic tendencies.

  • When Herod ordered the slaughter of all male babies under the age of two in his attempt to kill Jesus, his scheme was definitely narcissistic.
  • When Queen Vashti refused to comply with King Xerxes’s request to parade herself in front of his drunken buddies, King Xerxes’s six month wine fest to find a new queen, was a monumental narcissistic bender. Gathering all the virgins from the surrounding territories, he test drove each virgin until he found the perfect one.
  • Even King David manipulated and abused to get his way when he called for Bathsheba. This may have sounded romantic to be summoned by the king, but he used voyeurism to satisfy his desire. The sex he demanded was non-consensual. She didn’t have the authority to say no to the king. Her encounter with David was followed by the trauma of her husband’s death when David made sure he was put on the frontline to cover his tracks when he discovered Bathsheba’s pregnancy.

Before your anger boils over at the reminder of these stories, let me tell you about how God can redeem evil. He always provides a way of escape. When Pharaoh’s degree threatened the life of baby Jesus,  an angel of the Lord warned Joseph of Pharoah’s plot and provided for Mary and Joseph’s escape and the protection of baby Jesus.  

When King Xerxes’s reprehensible lust collided with Hamon’s evil plot that threatened to assassinate the Jews, God had a plan. Esther was an innocent pawn in this story, but God prevailed. He granted Esther favor and wisdom, and gave her divine strategies to deal with evil.

When David was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his rape and murder, David repented. David’s story of revilement and repentance brings up an important point. Not all men who have narcissistic tendencies are narcissists.

I wanted to mention these stories to encourage you. In spite of the evil behavior and narcissistic abuse you may have endured, God is able to restore your story. He will either provide a way of escape like he did with Mary and Joseph, provide grace to endure and the tools to stay like he did with Esther or bring the assailant to repentance like he did with King David.

So be encouraged. God has wisdom for your situation too.   

Even so, you need discernment. You need to be able to identify the insanity so wisdom can give you the direction you need.

That’s why in this video we are going to take a look at a glossary of narcissistic traits.   

Before we dive in, you may find it interesting what the Hebrew definition for wisdom is.

Wisdom comes from the Hebrew word ḥāḵmâ  which means

wisdom (in administration), shrewdness, prudence and skill (in war)

You may not be in physical combat, but manipulation, control and abuse is absolutely warfare. 

May God grant you wisdom.  

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In this video I’m going to discuss 10 Strategies Narcissists and Abusers Use to Control Their Partners

These strategies are definitely a dance....a dance of deception. 

First, let’s talk about the cycle of abuse: it is a predictable pattern of idealization, devaluation and discard. Like a bait and switch, it starts with a lure and once he’s sure that you’re hypnotized by his magnificence, the devaluation begins. You’ll be rendered speechless at how drastically his  behavior changed. In stark contrast to his once entrancing devotion, you’re baffled at his insults, intimidation, and the atrophy of who you’ve experienced him to be. It’s so confusing that you try to convince yourself that he really does love you. But instead of Romeo’s return, he continues his exploitation until the eventual discard.

The idealization phase is often characterized by love bombing. This can happen in a new relationship when a man is attempting to win over his new victim, but it is also part of the abuse cycle in an existing relationship. After the discard stage, love bombing is part of the destructive cycle that occurs when the narcissist tries to win you back.

Love bombing is a grooming technique, an intentional over-the-top romantic pursuit intended to lure and captivate a love interest in order to eventually control. In a new relationship Love bombing typically includes all sorts of romantic gestures that would normally be reserved for a much more mature relationship. He’ll woo you with romantic dates, gifts and he’ll want all of your attention. Frequent phone calls and texts.

He may take you on a wonderful vacation. Or maybe he’ll show up at your work and leave a note on your car. Or send flowers to your office. Even better if others observe his elaborate demonstration. It provides the endorsement of what a great guy he is. He needs an audience. He’ll do whatever it takes! The volume of flattery and interest is often hard to resist and can be intoxicating. He might say things like,

You’re perfect for me.
We have so much in common.
I’ve never met anyone like you.
You understand me like no one else.
We are meant to be together.
We are soul mates.

Constant chivalry and grand gestures abound. The text messages, phone calls and surprise visits make his interest seem genuine. His chase is relentless. He appears to hang on your every word, but make no mistake. He is studying you like a fisherman studies fish. He wants to know exactly what captivates you so he can...well capture you.

In a current relationship or marriage, love bombing looks similar. After the discard phase, he will often do anything to convince you that he is a changed man. He’ll go to that marriage conference you’ve been begging him to attend. He’ll be home on time for dinner and help with the kids. He’ll compliment your appearance and watch the movies you like. His actions seem genuine, but it may only be a show. He’s hoping you’ll fall for the bait again so he can resume his control, but only the test of time and conflict will tell the truth.

It’s an age old problem. Psalm 12:2 profiles an abuser’s behavior: They lie to one another; they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts. Proverbs speaks frequently about how intoxicating the behavior of the adulterous woman can be, but make no mistake. Men’s behavior can also be intoxicating. Let me read you a couple of verses, But instead of reading them with the female pronoun, let me read it to you with the masculine pronoun he.

Proverbs  7:21 gives this warning: With his much fair speech he caused her to yield, with the flattering of his lips he forced her.

Proverbs 2:16 gives this advice: Wisdom will save you from the immoral man. From the seductive words of the promiscuous man.

His charm is quite convincing and it feels wonderful to have the man you feel in love with back. But the idealization phase is only a temporary to regain your trust and resume his control over you.

Devaluation

Once his lure is complete and he’s once again won undying love, the bait and switch begins with the devaluation stage. The honeymoon is over and Prince Charming begins to melt and slowly but surely, he morphs into a monster. You were convinced that you’d found Mr. Right or you’re convinced that he’s changed back into the man you fell in love with, but now he’s suddenly full of criticism and disdain. He turns cold, distant and indifferent. He’s accusatory and may blame you for everything. He may have fits of rage or anger if you disagree with him. And then a plethora of other techniques to control leave you distraught and confused.

Finally comes the Discard phase. Once your abuser has completely broken you down and you no longer provide the supply that they need to feed their ego, the discard begins. The fear of losing your spouse or partner can drive you to be even more submissive and compliant in your effort to keep the relationship alive. If you’re married, the discard phase may not end in divorce, but rather the abandonment and rejection creates such a huge barrier that leaves you feeling emotionally divorced. Eventually when it suits his needs, he will resume the cycle all over again and ramp up his efforts to win you back with the idealization phase.  

Besides love bombing, he may use several other tactics to win your trust In the idealization phase, including mirroring, putting you on a pedestal and future faking.

Mirroring  is the mimicking of your behavior in order to establish a deep connection and convince you that you have a lot in common. If you like country music, so does he. If you love to work out, he does too. If you like attending church on Saturday night, that’s the only time he ever goes! Everything you like, he is passionate about. He copies your hobbies, your opinions, your priorities and your interests only to convince you that you meant to be together.  It’s not until the devaluation stage that you discover it was all a rouse when he suddenly he loses interest in the things he claimed to enjoy.

If he tries to put you on a pedestal...stay away. They only love you when you’re perfect because it makes them look good, so if compliments are overboard, watch out. It’s only a matter of time; At some point, the pedestal will fall, and then, they’ll devalue you and discard you.

Future faking. He’ll talk about all the dreams he has for your future together in great detail. He knows the desires of your heart and he’ll use those to paint a beautiful picture to convince you that his love and commitment are eternal. Empty promises abound. But it’s all just bait. A seducing come on to woo you into his control.

It can be as simple as a promise for tomorrow. My ex used to do this every evening when he promised that he’d go to work the next morning. He was a commissioned stockbroker and had no required office hours, but if he didn’t work, we didn’t get paid. Every night he made an empty promise that he’d get up early and head to the office. He was convincing and I was gullible!

I experienced future faking in another relationship in college. I didn’t know what it was called at the time. The comprehension of what had happened to me didn’t come until decades later when I learned about future faking. A light bulb went off in my mind when I was finally able to identify how I’d been deceived and manipulated.

A man that I thought was everything I ever wanted used love bombing and future faking to woo me. A couple weeks into our relationship, after he’d told me a million times how perfect I was, he secured my adoration even more by talking about the house we’d live in and the careers we’d enjoy. Then after he’d introduced me to his parents, he got a job offer in another state and was gone without an explanation. I was devastated. Again, my own naivety made me an easy target for manipulation.    

In the devaluation phase, he may use several tactics to gain control over you and confuse you including image management, baiting, gaslighting, narcissistic rage and triangulation.

Image management. He’s dismissive and rude with you but puts on an entirely different act with others. His charm is on full display in public. Others have a hard time believing this amazing man could do anything wrong and leaves you confused about what you did wrong.

Baiting...He’s full of sob stories, capitalizing on your empathy to make excuses for his behavior. When his intimidating demands don’t work, he’ll switch gears and play the victim to gain your sympathy and take back his control.

Gaslighting. If you feel confused and start questioning your memory of events or the reality of your thoughts, take pause. Your partner may be using deception to intentionally confuse you by feeding you false information. He may say things like, that never happened. You don’t remember that right. I never said that. Maybe you should see a doctor. Their concern seems genuine, but it’s all a façade. They want to increase your doubt in order to increase your dependency on them.

Psychology Today defines gaslighting as an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves. They may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity.

Narcissistic rage. Like a colossal adult temper tantrum, he’ll throw fits of rage and anger when he’s injured by beliefs that endanger his grandiosity or self-importance. He exercises no self-control over his defense mechanisms. His reactions are disproportionate to the incident that provoked him and his raging threatens and frightens you to retract your opinion and comply with his demands. Even a mild disagreement can trigger his rage so you end up walking on tippy toes to avoid aggravating his fragile ego.

Triangulation is an intentional manipulative strategy. It involves playing mental games and pitting people against each other for a selfish ambition. It’s a way to gain allies to support their position and claims. The manipulator needs influence and understands that their opinion alone doesn’t carry enough weight and may not fully substantiate their claim, so they gather reinforcements by recruiting and  convincing others to embrace their agenda. Now the opposition has grown and you find yourself in a battle where you may feel like no one is on your side. 

After the discard phase, he may use several tactics to reengage. Hoovering and induced conversation...we’ll also talk about how you can respond to that by going no contact.

Hoovering. Just like a hoover vacuum cleaner, the concept of hoovering is exactly that. Reaching out to touch base with a friendly text that begs for a reply to start a conversation. It seems innocent but it’s a ploy to suck you back into contact.

He might text a picture of something you love. I saw this today and couldn’t help but remember how much you loved Starbucks. Remember the time the whipped cream got all over your nose? He could care less about how much you loved coffee. This is meant to get a reminiscing reaction from you so that your nice polite self feels obligated to reply. He knows you don’t want to be rude. It’d be rude not to reply, right?

Maybe he’ll send a picture of him to make you miss him....Just thinking about you this time of year and remembering all the good times we had picking out Christmas trees together. (when a twinge of a smile spreads across your face...slap yourself!)  Are you ready for the holidays? Resist the urge to reply.

You have to consider the source. A true friend might ask you the same question, but remember the motive of the manipulator. They are banking on your innocence, your overly trusting nature, your gullibility to believe that they’ve changed, and easily fooled temperament that wants to hand out yet another chance. Isn’t that what Jesus would do?

Birthdays, anniversaries and special events are prime hoovering times. Events with your children may seem innocent. Sit with me at the Cameron’s football game. Go to the band concert with me. Let’s take the kids on a vacation. All may seem harmless, but reconnection is his agenda.

Holiday hoovering...the holiday season makes it easier for narcissists to rekindle contact because the season celebrates peace, love, hope, joy and family gatherings. The holidays are flooded with reminders of euphoric memories that can easily resurrect and reawaken emotions we’ve already buried.

Narcissists have mastered the art of seductive reminiscing. In addition, they prey on the probability that the thought of doing holidays alone might make you too fragile to resist what seems like sincere interest. When relationships have been shattered, loneliness can be a very persuasive pseudo shrink and relationship advocate. Be careful that you guard yourself well!  An invite to a party? It’s New Years Eve! You throw caution to the wind and swallow your resolve. Just this one time. There ‘ll be other people there. What could go wrong? At least I’ll have someone to talk to and it’s better than going alone.

No contact. Going no contact is a decision you make to cut off all communication and personal contact with your abuser in order to protect yourself from further control, manipulation and abuse.

It’s a self-protective measure and a way to guard your heart. You may have to block his number, but at a minimum, you refuse to answer calls, emails and text messages. It’s also wise to not read the emails or listen to voice mails. You can’t unhear his words. And no matter how many pleas he makes, you refuse to meet up with him. You need to have the freedom to heal and you can’t do this if you’re constantly under his control and manipulation.

In order to effectively go no contact, You have to have the revelation that you can’t fix him. That you don’t need to give him another change. That his actions have proved what is in his heart. Once you stop engaging with your abuser, relief comes and you can begin your recovery. Maintaining the resolve to walk away and go no contact needs support. Your spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. that’s why you need wisdom, discernment and  support to follow through and maintain your decision.

Maybe you know God has called you to walk away, but you’ve hesitated. The blessing of God is on the other side of obedience. Remember the story of the ten lepers? Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest. But he didn’t heal them on the spot. The 10 lepers weren’t healed until they left.  Their faith to leave and face the fear of being ostracized healed them. Likewise, it’s in the leaving that you’ll find your healing and restoration.

And oh, how he’ll try to pull you back in. Induced conversation is a ploy by the narcissist to draw you into contact. But the intent of the conversation is a wrestling match and they are in charge of the wrestling ring. so that they can win and reconnect and reengage. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation. If you’ve gone no contact they will not stop until they find a way to get you to reengage. Maybe they will say something to make you feel obligated to respond like Jimmie‘s teacher said that we need to talk about how we can help him with his homework. He might try to get you to engage by accusing you so you’ll engage by defending yourself. My credit card was declined and it’s all your fault. I wouldn’t be in this mess if you weren’t so greedy. Our divorce bankrupted me and somehow to managed to get triple the child support you deserve. 

Don’t get in the ring. You’ll wind up in a mess. Never wrestle with a pig. You’ll get muddy and besides the pig likes it.

Narcissists are very patient. Just like the devil does, he’ll wait for an opportune time. When you’re going No contact, you have to be wary of the ploys he’ll use to draw you back into contact. He may be so persistent in his attempts to contact you that you get annoyed and finally give in. Or he may even leave you alone for a while. but with some sort of sixth sense, he’ll pounce when you least expect it.  You’ve found some clarity and confidence and then out of the blue, he finds a way to reach out. And with some time away, you think you can handle it. DON’T. It’s a trap. A mirage of misery.

Or maybe he will try to stir your emotions. Hey I heard our song today and couldn’t help but think of you. Remember how much fun we had at the Chris Stapleton concert?  Or maybe he’ll try to guilt trip you and say something like you don’t know how much you hurt me I deserve a chance to explain how much I love you. He will play on your need to feel obligated to respond or defend yourself or stir you emotions or rely on your compassionate nature to let him explain why he still loves you. But once you enter the wrestling ring you are in dangerous territory. He wants you to remember how loving and kind he used to be and forget about all of his accusations and threats

When you’ve made a decision to go no contact, Don’t reengage. Be alert to his schemes. Walk away. Remember the insight Proverbs 26:11 provides: As a dog returns to its vomit so does a fool return to his folly. I believe this verse supports the concept of no contact

The Message Bible puts it this way: “As a dog eats its own vomit, so fools recycle silliness.” Proverbs 26:11 MSG

Don’t fall for the folly! Allow god to fill you with wisdom. That way, little by little, you can increase your discernment and stop being blindsided by the evil agendas of those who try to control you.

The one who gets wisdom loves life; 

the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper (Proverbs 19:8).  

© 2024  Christy Johnson     Christine Johnson LLC